The U-Haul was packed, my second-trimester belly was popping, and the season of change was waiting on the other side of the drive back to Indy after spending three wanderlust years living and thriving in Vegas. We were newlyweds making the “responsible” decision to come back home, so our families and friends throughout most of our lives would again be part of our regular, day-to-day. The move and months leading up to birth were a welcoming home and shifting phase I loved. Little did I know the emotional roller coaster awaiting me.
I had always gone into every minutia of my life SO well-planned. Meal-prepper extraordinaire (check), vision-board artisan (check), to-do list maker for the eventual zombie apocalypse (you got it, who needs non-perishables and a storm shelter? Bueller, Bueller?). Perfect balance most of the days. My plan this time was calculated, and I knew I desperately wanted to change career fields. So I patiently prepped my resume for the months until I gave birth. Tweaking for this field or that one, hoping I could snag anything other than the dreaded sales industry after ten years in the teaching field.
Then it hit me. Birth and baby went fine, but I was not. Postpartum depression stymied my brain and heart daily, and myself nor my husband could figure out what was happening to me as I shifted moods and panic all day every. Single. Day. Then the calls began. Could I interview the day after tomorrow? Could I bring X, Y, and Z, to the interview? Hell, I didn’t know if I had PANTS, let alone any other interview requirements! I still had baby brain, and getting ready for just ME to leave the house was taking twice as long as I’d ever known before.
Still, in spite of all that, I did land a new job. Let’s get a few things straight, I’d never worked in a cubicle before, I’d never worked in the industry that had hired me on, and I was a stranger to my own self, so I saw nothing but a recipe for success (said no mom ever)! My new boss was not made aware that I had a new baby, and I was not going to share that to anyone for quite a while as I didn’t want anyone to think that my abilities hinged on being a new mom. I dropped my child off at daycare for the very first time in his life and mine, and I had to keep the most stoic demeanor of my entire life because the last thing I wanted to look like at a new job was weak. I didn’t cry one tear, and that was when the idea of crying as a luxury dawned on me. (I want to thank the office masculinity of collective America for that logic as I eye roll so hard, my brain tingles).
My male boss was a lovely misogynist who went so far as to comment that the legal changing of my last name to “match my husband’s” would probably make my spouse very happy. He was telling this to the grown adult child of a mother who STILL uses her maiden name in business (and she would wipe you under a boardroom table, dude). Now, I never saw my boss’s home, but I imagine he’s living in a log cabin in the year 1892 with commentary like that. It was about 15 minutes into that job, that I knew a) I wasn’t staying long, b) I no longer cared if “they” knew I had a baby, and c) I wasn’t going to let the commentary of a person who had lived in a red-state-bubble his entire life, bother me. My moments of forgetfulness were put on-blast as none of these co-workers had known the bulldog worker I’d been pre-baby-brain. I had not only worked one job in the decade post-college, but I had my crap so well together, that I worked two or three, FOR FUN. I was the most ambitious person some friends said that they had known. So I gave it three months and went back to the career field which felt like home to me after all of that.
My point in writing this is solely to tell women and new moms in their season of changes, under the throes of motherhood, to try as best you are able, to take it slow, and go back to the coworkers who knew you leading up to your pregnancy. If you are thinking a job-jump or career-change, give yourself a few months to get to know YOU as a new mom before the world is able to even have a chance at swallowing you up and eating you. Many days still – now a couple jobs later and I’m still looking for the kind of environments of joy I’d had in my decade post-college, pre-mom job – I will still feel a tinge of sadness that I never did get to have that, “Welcome back to work, we love you, we’re here for you and you’ll be back to kicking butt in no time” hug…a hug that might have changed everything.